Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires careful management, but patients whose diabetes is well-controlled can lead normal, healthy lives.
Regional One Health offers a variety of providers who specialize in various elements of managing diabetes.
Through clinical nutrition, medication, medical management, wound care and more, our team can provide comprehensive care based on each patient’s individual needs.
The more a person knows about their diabetes diagnosis, the more opportunities they have to take charge of their health through nutrition, medication and proactive care.
Proper management of diabetes helps individuals lead normal, healthy lives. Along with a primary care provider, patients may see an endocrinologist, nutritionist, wound care doctor and others.
For many, a healthy diet is a good place to start. Martin Del Real Navarro, MS, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian at Regional One Health, said there are general rules people with diabetes should follow, like consuming adequate complex carbohydrates, limiting sugars (including added sugars), and practicing portion control.
While those steps can lower A1C levels, improve lipid profiles and manage weight, he said, they should be viewed through the lens of a person’s personal and cultural preferences: “We all eat differently and we all like different foods. Visualize a healthy plate and apply your culture to it.”
The American Diabetes Association recommends a plate with half non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth lean protein, and one-fourth whole grains.
Carbohydrates impact blood glucose the quickest and the most. Choose foods with healthy complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes; and avoid simple carbohydrates, found in processed foods with added fat and sugar.
Del Real Navarro also suggests using healthy cooking methods like grilling or baking, limiting condiments and sauces, not adding salt or sugar, and pairing indulgences with lighter choices. Also, practice portion control by reading labels carefully and sticking to reasonable serving sizes.
“With proper resources and knowledge, patients can fit the foods they eat into a healthier plan,” he said. “The idea is to use nutrition to manage weight and chronic conditions. We should eat this way regardless – it helps with overall health and wellbeing.”
While proper nutrition can help manage diabetes, patients may need medication and specialist care as well to avoid complications.
Primary care providers and endocrinologists can help patients find the right type and dosage of medication to manage their blood sugar. They can also address common diabetes complications like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage and vision problems.
Some patients also require specialized wound care.
Diabetes can cause poor circulation, making it hard for blood to reach the extremities. Patients can develop ulcers on their feet, and the limited blood flow inhibits healing.
Tony Alleman, MD, medical director for the Wound Care Center at Regional One Health, specializes in using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help heal diabetic wounds. Patients undergo treatment in a chamber that delivers 100 percent oxygen under pressure, with the goal of sparking the body’s own healing processes.
“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help the patient grow new blood vessels into their wounds, and with that extra blood flow, we can heal their wounds,” Dr. Alleman said. “We get consistent results with closing wounds for patients who had literally tried everything else without success.”